It’s cliché, but one of my favorite memories is the day my dad took the training wheels off my bike. The bike is blurry – banana seat, pink streamers hanging out of the handles – but I remember the exhilaration as if it were yesterday.
Once the training wheels were off, I was slightly afraid of the wobbling. My dad said he’d hold the back of the bike and run with me until I got my balance. I didn’t have to be afraid.
I pedaled off, my dad at my back, the scrapy sound of the training wheels gone, the whoosh of the wheels crunching the road. I was balanced; I was riding my bike.
I turned to look at my dad, so proud of myself, but he wasn’t there. He was far behind me, standing in the street, watching. I had been so focused that I never noticed that he had let go when he knew I could do it, even before I knew. That kind of empowerment for a little girl can’t be understated.
Clichés become clichés because they’re important enough to remember and repeat. My dad has been at my back like that my whole life. I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Speaking of bikes and having a person’s back: We ran a story last week about J-1 visa students arriving for the summer season and the various forms of transportation they need and use to enable their mobility.
During the course of researching that story, I learned about the bike ministry that closed in 2019 (I returned to the county in 2020) that used to supply employers with bikes for nearly all, if not all, of the J-1 students they employed. Without that program, employers were scrambling to find bikes at a time when the global pandemic and supply-chain issues had converged to create a bike shortage.
We heard from many people who had bikes to donate, but because there was no longer a program, there was no longer a place to donate the bikes. The best route is to donate directly to employers of J-1 students.
If you know of one or two of these, ask them. For those who don’t know such employers, I’ve made several calls and developed a list. If you have a bike that’s in good working condition – that’s important – that you’d like to donate, email me at [email protected], and I’ll send you some contacts.